After falling behind 10-0 early in the game, the Kansas City Chiefs shrugged off another slow start with a second-quarter rally in which they seized the lead, and held on for a 35-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship. The Chiefs advanced to Super Bowl LIV, and opened as a 1-point favorite over the San Francisco 49ers.
Patrick Mahomes threw three touchdowns and rushed for another in the Chiefs’ second consecutive comeback win at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs were down 24-0 last weekend in the AFC Divisional round, but the Houston Texans blew the huge lead when Mahomes engineered four unanswered touchdowns to take a 28-24 lead into halftime.
In the AFC Championship game, the Chiefs found themselves in a hole against the Titans and down 17-7 in the second quarter. The team didn’t flinch, and stormed back for a second week in a row. Tyreek Hill scored a 20-yard touchdown to trim the deficit to 17-14. Mahomes followed that up with an impromptu, 27-yard rushing touchdown at the end of the second quarter, putting the Chiefs ahead, 21-17.
Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games 💪 pic.twitter.com/ZC8Ts5dHqK
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 19, 2020
“They were doubling all these guys,” said Mahomes on his touchdown scamper. “I just ran it and got some good blocking at the end, and found a way to get in the end zone.”
KC Clamps Down on Henry
Once the Chiefs secured the 21-17 lead heading into halftime, they never looked back against the Titans. The Chiefs’ defense allowed only a garbage-time touchdown in the fourth quarter, and shut down Derrick Henry. Henry rushed for only seven yards in the second half after running at will in the first half, with 62 yards and a touchdown.
Henry torched opposing teams during the Titans’ previous three elimination games, posting 588 total rushing yards. In Week 17 against the Houston Texans, Henry exploded for 211 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-14 blowout to secure a wild-card berth. Against the New England Patriots in the AFC wild card, Henry rushed for 184 yards and a touchdown during a surprising 20-13 victory at Foxboro. In the AFC Divisional round, Henry rushed for 195 yards in a 28-12 upset over the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens.
“Our backs were against the wall the whole season,” said Henry. “We kept on fighting and kept on believing in each other. I think it speaks volumes about the team we have. We just came up short.”
After a sensational run in the playoffs, the Titans ran out of gas in the second half. After losing in overtime to the New England Patriots in the 2019 AFC Championship game, the Chiefs weren’t going to squander the opportunity to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.
First Super Bowl in 50 Years
The Chiefs advanced to their first Super Bowl in 50 years. They won the big game in their first-ever appearance back in 1970. The Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers, who had an easy time defeating the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship.
“It’s amazing. It really is,” said Mahomes. “To be here, to be a part of Chiefs Kingdom and to be able to do it here at Arrowhead, these people deserve it. And we’re not done yet.”
The Chiefs also won the Lamar Hunt Trophy, which is awarded to the winner of the AFC Championship game. Sunday’s win marks he first time the Chiefs earned the award since the NFL named it in the honor of the franchise’s original owner, Lamar Hunt. Hunt gets credit for conjuring up the term “Super Bowl” when trying to figure out a name for the AFL-NFL Championship game.
“Very excited and very emotional to win the trophy that has my dad’s name on it,” said Clark Hunt, son of Lamar and current owner of the Chiefs. “Yeah, 50 years were too long, but we’re going to another Super Bowl.”
Hunt hired head coach Andy Reid in 2013 to help turn around the team.
“So much effort that went into this,” said Reid. “It takes an army, it is not one guy at all. I appreciate the effort by everybody.”
According to William Hill, the Chiefs are 3/4 odds to win the 2020 Super Bowl.